2022 NHL Draft’s 10 Must-Have Prospects

Most everyone knows who the top players are going into the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft. But the teams who will come out winning at this draft will be the ones who can find NHL talent later in the draft.

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It’s now time to reveal our annual list of Must-Have prospects for the draft. You are not going to see the obvious names such as Shane Wright, David Jiricek, Cutter Gauthier, Conor Geekie and others.

This list is comprised of players in which most scouting services have ranked either late in the first round or outside of the first round. But what separates these players is that I believe they will make an impact at the NHL level based on the tools they bring. Just because a team doesn’t own a high pick doesn’t mean they can’t land quality talent.

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Here are the 10 players that make the must-have list this season and then a couple sentences as to why I am high on them. Keep in mind this is relative to where they are drafted come draft night. I believe that 2-3 of these prospects have star potential.

10 Must-Have Prospects of 2022

Isaac Howard

I believe Howard is one of the best players available overall in this draft, but yet his ranking is all over the place depending on what you read. He was one of the top scorers at the U-18’s. He’s also one of the most skilled players available overall. Late in the first or beyond, you’d be hard pressed to find a better prospect available.

Isaac Howard USNTDP
Isaac Howard is one of the best players available overall late in the first and beyond. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Frank Nazar

Nazar was my steal of the 2022 NHL Draft for a reason. He’s one of the better skaters in the draft. He also is the kind of player you want to go to war with. He is undersized but that gives him all the more reason to show why he’s primed to be one of the best players to come from this draft.

Related: Meet the Steal of the 2022 NHL Draft

Rutger McGroarty

You look at McGroarty’s overall package and wonder why some places have him ranked outside the first round. Not many prospects can offer the package of power and finesse in their game. Some do question his skating. But do that at your own risk. Late in the first, this player is going to immensely help someone.

Denton Mateychuk

Don’t let his size fool you. Mateychuk is one of the more fun prospects to watch in this draft. There is a chance someone takes him early. But you generally don’t see him in the conversation for top 3-4 defensemen in this draft. Given his skating and transition skill, he has a case to be in that conversation and will provide immense value to someone later on.

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Lane Hutson

There’s undersized. And then there’s 5-foot-8 defenseman undersized. Some scouts have Hutson in their second or third round due to this. But if you watch him on tape, you immediately see an impressive skater who is fearless and is a good defender despite being undersized. While he’s likely not a Cale Makar or a Quinn Hughes, Hutson is in that same mold and could make someone look real smart on day two.

Jani Nyman

Nyman has three big things going in his favor. He already has NHL size. He’s a good finisher. And he’s one of the youngest 2004 prospects available as he’ll still be 17 on draft night. If he gets an extra gear in his skating, you’re getting a first-round talent at the price of a mid-second or later.

Ty Nelson

The first-overall pick of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection is down on some rankings but still has a lot of offensive skill from the blue line teams will covet. Missing a year of action likely cost him some development but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more dynamic player entering the later rounds.

Christian Kyrou

Kyrou’s story of staying with it through the pandemic should serve as inspiration for anyone who had a slow start to their career. He went from zero points his rookie year to losing a season to now being one of the fastest risers in this entire draft. He has the tools teams covet, right-shot, offensively-minded defenseman who can fly. He was on my short list to be the steal of this draft.

Christian Kyrou Erie Otters
Christian Kyrou is one of the best defenders available after the top group. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Kirill Dolzhenkov

Here’s a name you may not have heard of. But after you watch him play, you immediately see what stands out about him. He’s a massive winger at 6-foot-6 and has shown an ability to score. He uses his strength to his advantage in every situation and his skating is good all things considered. He’s actually one of my favorite prospects outside the top-64. If he figures it out he has the chance to dominate. Like all Russian prospects, it will be interesting to see how far he drops.

David Goyette

While Goyette seems to be a polarizing prospect depending on who you talk to, his skill is very evident on the ice. He too was impacted by the lost season. However his complete package is good enough for the NHL. If he can find consistency, Goyette is primed to be one of the best day-two players available.

As you can see, there is plenty of good talent available later in the draft. While it may not be loaded with superstars, there is an abundance of players available who should eventually help an NHL team.

We won’t know draft winners and losers for many years. But don’t be surprised if some of the winners come from the teams that draft these 10 players. They all have something good to offer and should provide excellent value on draft Friday.